Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

MEPs demand release of British-Greek journalist

26th June 2009

In what is escalating to be a full blown diplomatic dispute two leading MEPs from London have demanded the immediate and unconditional release of journalist Iason Athanasiadis aka Jason Fowden.

Charles Tannock and newly-elected MEP, Marina Yannakoudakis, have said the arrest is "outrageous" and Tehran's crackdown on protesters is to be condemned, and called on the Iranian government to submit to "unfettered access for international media to the protesters."

Yesterday, European Parliament president Hans-Gert Pöttering said he was considering sending a delegation from the European Parliament to Tehran to examine allegations of fraud in the elections. Dr Tannock said he would attempt to join the delegation in order to place pressure on the authorities to release Mr Fowden.

Dr Charles Tannock said:

"This could be a turning point for Iran. Despite the brutal attempts to crack down on the protesters, we have witnessed worthy resolve from the Iranian people.

"It is all too easy for us to characterise Iran by its leadership when clearly there is a great yearning for change amongst ordinary Iranians. That change can only be manifested once freedom of the press and assembly are permitted.

"The European Union must show that it is a friend of the Iranian people, who deserve better than an authoritarian leadership masquerading as a democracy."

Marina Yannakoudakis said:

"New media such as Youtube and social networking sites are making it almost impossible for the Iranian regime to hide its brutality and disdain for the rights of its citizens.

"To arrest a foreign journalist under the pretence of spying is utterly spurious. We appeal to the Iranian government to release Mr Fowden immediately and return him to his family. The events of the last few days have shown that the truth cannot be hidden by the Iranian regime, and falsely imprisoning journalists is not going to stop Iranians from demanding the justice they deserve."
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